How I Advanced My Career In Data Analytics, From a Director at Ampersand

Sponsored by Ampersand

Photo Courtesy of Ampersand

Photo Courtesy of Ampersand

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A Bronx, New York native, Anastasia Dukes-Asuen is a wife and mom to two young children. She's a puzzle lover with a very diverse Spotify playlist—a lot of EDM and Afro-beats, with music by Kaskade and Burna Boy. 

Anastasia has worked at several organizations before joining Ampersand in May 2019. Her first data job was as an analyst, building marketing mix models for a variety of consumer-packaged goods brands. “I worked with extensive data sets and advanced analytics to illustrate advertising tactics performance (everything from outdoor billboards to digital ads).” Anastasia then shifted into a public sector role as a senior researcher at the NYC Department of Education, where she focused mainly on teacher/principal attrition. She missed the advertising world, so she took a leap and accepted a research and planning role where she leaned into what's known as addressable TV. It's where she met her current manager.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and how long have you been in this role?

I am the Director of Advanced TV Data + Insights for Ampersand, a TV advertising sales and technology company. I manage a team that supports all targeting and measurement needs for Ampersand's national campaigns as well as data operations for client partnerships. My day-to-day responsibilities include coaching my team on working with our partners to identify the most relevant audiences for an advertiser and navigate complicated data operations, overseeing campaign launches, and reviewing measurement reports that explain a campaign's performance versus the advertiser's goals. I've worked at Ampersand for nearly two years. 

In simple terms, I use data to find the best audience for an advertiser and evaluate success by measuring outcomes tied to Ampersand’s addressable TV exposure.

What about your job excites you?

I like variety—no two days are the same. I can be working on a dozen different things at once—there's always a new challenge that I have to solve. When working with data and trying to meet the client's needs, it can often feel like solving a puzzle. One of my strengths is that I can see how disparate pieces of information can come together to form a solution.  

What first got you interested in pursuing a career in data? 

My first job after graduating from SUNY Geneseo was in marketing. I've always had a creative side, so I felt marketing was where I could express that side of myself. What I quickly realized was that I was really interested in the numbers and research. That meant readjusting my career path. 

 Data analytics has been around forever, but in the past ten years, it has evolved significantly. So, I decided to pivot. I moved to Boston to pursue what was a new dual Masters program at Boston University, going to school full-time for a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Information Systems. Data mining and data science were starting to thrive, and I felt the program would provide me with a solid foundation and set me on the path for advertising analytics.

What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you've faced working as a woman in data?

Pursuing my graduate degrees provided insight into what I would experience in my post-grad school career. There were very few women and I was one of the three black women in my cohort. There were not many others that I could turn to who could understand my experience. 

Even after I graduated and would attend conferences, I'd find myself being one of few black women in my field. Representation matters so much, and we need to see more of ourselves in senior leadership positions. 

While I didn't feel there were many role models that I could relate with, I managed to develop meaningful connections. Many people have been really good to me and helped me throughout my career. For example, my grad school peer helped me get my first job in advertising data analytics at a well-known brand, which set me on the path for my current role.

If you could draw more women into the data analytics industry, what would you say?

There's been such a significant focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but we must make sure that young girls know STEM is for them too. 

Even after grad school, I started first in the beauty industry doing marketing for well-known brands, but I didn't love it. So, when my grad school peer mentioned that her company was hiring and she'd put in a good word for me, I went for what really makes me tick. 

What is your favorite aspect of the culture at Ampersand?

I think we have a great culture. We're pushing the envelope; we're trying to shake up the industry. I get to work with a lot of smart people. If you like to do hard stuff, it's a great place to work!

The company recently launched a mentoring program, and I was paired with our CEO Nicolle Pangis. At first, I was apprehensive, but having her as a mentor and learning about her background, has truly motivated me. 

What is the most memorable piece of career advice you've received?

Take the time to invest in yourself. Don't keep your head down, focusing on each little task and ticking off your to-do list. Investing in yourself can be anything from enrolling in a course you're interested in, working with a career coach, or even taking the time to list your accomplishments. Keep a tally of what you accomplished throughout the year. Often, people wait until the end of the year during performance reviews to document their achievements, when they should be taking note throughout the year. And, don't be afraid to toot your own horn in the moment!

 What advice do you have for other women who are beginning a career in data?

If you're trying to enter the data field in some capacity, it can be overwhelming. Data is everywhere, so you have to figure out which industry you gravitate toward. Take time to visualize your dream job and your dream company and make that your goal. 

Trust your gut and use your intuition. Data may seem straightforward, black and white or cut and dry, but intuition gained from experience over time has helped me a great deal. Sometimes, when I am navigating a problem, even though the data bears things out, I have to go with my gut. Over time, as you gain experience and become an expert in your field, you'll feel more grounded about your decision-making. Other people trusting my expertise and decision-making reinforced that confidence.

I can't say I solely rely on my gut, but it hasn't steered me wrong at critical moments in my career. 

As a manager, how do you impart that to your team?

I love my team and it's my responsibility to bring out their best. I have three women on my team, so in many ways, I feel even more invested in ensuring their success. My husband often says it's not enough to be confident. You must also be competent. Confidence will only get you so far. Knowing your stuff is equally, if not more, important. So, as a team, I work to ensure that they're knowledgeable and confident in that knowledge, and in themselves. 


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